How one acquisition and 50 MSSPs helped AT&T grow its cyber security business
- 17 September, 2019 16:34
Greg Vlahos (AT&T Cybersecurity)
One year ago, six Americans landed in Sydney to launch the headquarters of AlienVault Asia Pacific after three years running the business during graveyard hours.
In that period, the San Francisco-based team had steadily built the cyber security software vendor’s regional footprint to 50 partners and 250 customers, but yet still with no physical presence.
However, recognising the need to provide on-the-ground support to its burgeoning channel community, AlienVault officially moved into Australia on 22 August 2018, the day AT&T signed the dotted line on the company’s acquisition.
Now operating under the name AT&T Cybersecurity, AlienVault’s start-up mentality remains in place as does its belief in putting managed security service providers at the epicentre of its strategy.
According to APAC regional sales director Greg Vlahos that focus comes from AlienVault’s 2007 origins as an MSSP operating out of Madrid before Silicon Valley called.
“We started out as a partner before we became a vendor,” he said. “The platform they built was one they could deploy to all their customers. It was integrated so they could do all the [security] detection with their customers and write the rules back into the central management system. They realised this was something they could sell as software in Silicon Valley, and then partners realised ‘this is what we need’ -- probably because it was written by an MSSP.”
Central to the vendor’s strategy is honing in not on a customer’s vertical, but the size of its cyber security team, with its Unified Security Solutions fitting more closely with smaller units.
“We have always seen us as a no-brainer choice for the small, five-man security, teams,” Vlahos explained. “The larger ones have the luxury of choosing all the different point solutions of a product and integrating them. They have the time to write the correlation rules and power unity. I have seen large enterprises that have small security teams, so the first question I ask customers is how big is their security team.”
Local partners convinced by AlienVault’s solutions now include Loop Secure, Fiscal Labs, Frame Secure, Control IT, The Missing Link, New Base, Origin IT and also the New Zealand partners Cordia and SSS IT Security.
Since its opening last year, the Sydney team has now grown to 20 employees -- including three of the six founding Americans -- with Dicker Data’s Tim Windever most recently joining to oversee the channel network.
The company also has a partnership with Fujitsu in Japan, and has recently hired its first employees in Singapore.
Although now rebranded to AT&T Cybersecurity, AlienVault’s partner program has remained in place. Indeed according to Vlahos, the telecommunications giant “really let us come in and do our thing”.
What has changed however is the level of investment into partners, in terms of both product and marketing assets, plus the freedom to cement partner support. One way of ensuring this is to send technical team members along with an account manager to clients across Australia and New Zealand.
“We really give our technical consultants time to them,” Vlahos said. “When they need help we really want to be there to support them.”
“We’re on the road a lot,” he added.
Looking ahead, AT&T Cybersecurity is now intending to put its first boots on the ground in Melbourne as more investment is poured into boosting its technical capabilities.
“With AT&T investment, we are building into more cloud environments and more software-as-a-service,” Vlahos said. “We’re building out more features, more user behaviour analytics. We’re still adding new tools to keep it relevant and efficient for the small security teams.”
“[AT&T] have a third of the world’s internet,” he added. “So we now have a tremendous amount of data we are able to feed our security teams. Because of that wealth of data, our security intelligence team has been on steroids for the past year.”